One of Hitler's allies was Bennito Mussolini, the leader of Italy, who was happy to adopt Germany's methods and policies. Today's picture book is about how one Italian family was affected by these changes.
Historical Fiction Picture Book
For ages 7 to 10
Random House, 2011, 978-0-375-86695-1
When Nonna was a little girl, she lived in an apartment building in Rome, Italy, with her parents and her brother Roberto. In the afternoons, Mamma used to take Nonna and Roberto to the park, and every evening their Papa would play the piano for them before they went to bed.
Then war broke out in Europe and life for Nonna and her family began to change. New laws were created that targeted Jews like Nonna. There were many things that Jews were no longer allowed to do, and then Papa was told that he had to leave his family and go to live in a village in the mountains.
For a while, Nonna, Mama, and Roberto went to the village every weekend to spend time with Papa, but then Papa learned that the Germans were coming to the village. He knew that the Germans were sending all the Jews that they found to concentrations camps, so he decided that he would go into hiding. He told his family that he would leave a note for them in an old beech tree in the village so that tgey would know that he was well.
When the local officials found out that Papa was gone, they got very angry and announced that they would take Mama in his place and hand her over to the Germans.
This story is based on the real life experiences of the author’s mother, who fled to Italy from Germany in the early 1930’s, and who had some extraordinary adventures during World War II. The narrative describes very difficult times, but it also shows children how hard times can bring out the best in people. Thanks to some very brave Italians, the author’s mother and her two children (like many other Jews in Italy) were hidden and survived the war.
This powerful and informative book serves as a fitting tribute to the people who found ways to survive Nazi and Fascist aggression both before and during World War II. It is also a tribute to those who risked everything to help others during this difficult time.